What we have learned from COVID-19:
Insights from A Hospital Marketer
As we all very well know, battling COVID-19 for the past year has been like none we have ever experienced. This is especially true for the healthcare industry. Working with hospitals and health systems across the country, we are seeing commons trends from coast to coast.
Melissa Neal, Vice President of Client Partnership, thought it would be interesting to share the most commons trends from our hospital partners nationwide.
Insight #1: Marketing is essential.
While this may not seem like an obvious statement to some, it hasn’t always felt this way. Having served in marketing roles at a health system, it can at times be a challenge to be seen as an indispensable role in the health ecosystem, much less show quantifiable results for all your efforts. More and more, marketing and operation lines are being blurred and the pandemic propelled that blurriness right into farsightedness. Many healthcare marketers have seen their role become incredibly vital as the need to market hospital services has to be dialed up and down daily. The community also needs to be regularly informed on how and where to access care, as this can change often. Compound that with the need to drive immediate revenue to recover losses and also reconnect with the masses of people that have delayed care to ensure the health of the population remains the priority.
Insight #2: Planning is essential.
Many hospitals had trouble solidifying budgets for 2021 due to the disruption of care delivery and COVID. We've heard from many clients that they have had a hard time planning for tomorrow, much less a whole year ahead. So while planning is still critical, there are real challenges to creating an effective plan. We have led many clients through monthly or quarterly planning sessions to ensure that they are directionally moving in a strategically sound way, but responsive to the needs of the moment.
Insight #3: Network Integrity is essential.
A key business growth initiative for almost all our hospital clients is ensuring referrals stay in-house. Sounds easy, right? Not so much. Ensuring that the integrity of the network stays intact is nuanced. Are providers aware of all services offered within the system? Do they trust those connected to the system with their patients? What is access like? Are there insurance issues? Are patients requesting to go elsewhere? I could go on and on. Hospital executives including marketing (and physicians) are trying to analyze the broken referral pathways and identify operational and marcomm strategies (amongst others) to make this better. As more data becomes available, it is being used to bring new solutions to the table to make referrals and access for patients easier. seamless. efficient.
Insight #4: Wellness is essential.
I think we can all agree that the last 12 months have brought a lot of uncertainty. Many people have avoided receiving routine care due to fear and uncertainty (on top of other reasons). This includes those that have chronic illnesses and are now, unfortunately, experiencing the unintended consequences of delaying care. Because of that, many healthcare providers are focusing now more than ever on wellness initiatives and re-engaging their communities. Additionally, we have heard that many hospitals are supporting local employee wellness initiatives because the cost to employers is very evident in the workforce as many are losing skilled employees to illness or quarantine. It is just another opportunity for hospitals to support community wellness.
Insight #5: Growth is essential.
Many hospital executives on our Advisory Board reported that while COVID-19 impacting their daily operations; growth is necessary. No hospital can sit still until this pandemic passes to return to strategy, innovation, and making plans to win the business of consumers when the need for healthcare arises. So while the daily uncertainties of COVID-19 remain ever-present, health systems are also being asked to exceed pre-COVID volume goals, which were already aggressive. Being a healthcare marketer (or just being in healthcare period) right now requires massive agility, endurance, and the ability to pivot on a dime to keep forward momentum and growth.
To all our hospitals and health systems who are pivoting each day to keep communities safe and cared for, we thank you.